Belfast Telegraph

Dad's plea over online drug sales

Crackdown urged at inquest into man who overdosed on Egyptian pills

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

The father of a man who took his own life after buying prescription-only drugs over the internet has said more must be done to regulate online pharmacies.

Dr Mike Davidson spoke out after an inquest into the death of his son Matthew, who died in October 2010.

The 26-year-old, who had severe Asperger’s syndrome — a form of autism — and battled depression and anxiety, died after overdosing on Tramadol, an opiate that suppresses the respiratory system. He bought it through a website based in Egypt.

On Monday a sitting at May’s Chambers in Belfast heard how Matthew, who had attempted to take his own life on three previous occasions and engaged in self-harm, was able to purchase 60 Tramadol tablets without checks being done to test his mental wellbeing.

He was found in a semi-conscious state at his flat on Windermere Road, Lisburn, on October 1, 2010 and suffered a cardiac arrest as paramedics arrived. Despite repeated attempts to save him, Matthew could not be resuscitated.

Speaking outside court, Dr Davidson told the Belfast Telegraph: “I would hope that responsible online pharmacies would have a mechanism to check why so much medicine is being used, as a minimal requirement.”

He said he is “hopeful” that Health Minister Edwin Poots will examine the issue. “Unfortunately these sites are registered outside the UK so he might not have much influence,” said Dr Davidson.

Currently, internet companies registered outside the country can sell and deliver medication to addresses in the UK. This includes medicine which requires a doctor’s prescription.

Dr Davidson has campaigned tirelessly for better regulation of websites since his son’s death.

Quotes

Coroner Suzanne Anderson said she would write to Health Minister Edwin Poots to highlight fears about the availability of prescription-only drugs on the internet. She said: “I am going to write to Minister Poots to raise concern about the availability of drugs over the internet.”

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